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Newcomers Girard, Kamenev Getting Their Chance

The new Avs joined the team from the Nov. 5 trade

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Two of the Colorado Avalanche's newest additions are up with the NHL club and the plan appears to be that they'll both stay there for the near future.

The Avs recalled forward Vladislav Kamenev from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League on Tuesday afternoon, joining rookie defenseman Samuel Girard on the team's active roster. Kamenev and Girard were acquired in a three-team trade on Nov. 5 with the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators that included the Avs receiving four players and three draft picks in total.

Girard joined Colorado for its two games in Stockholm, Sweden, last weekend for the SAP NHL Global Series against Ottawa and impressed his coaches and teammates in the small sample size.

"To me, he doesn't look overwhelmed at all," Bednar said of Girard. "He looks like a real confident guy. You can tell because he's not scared to handle the puck, to make plays in pressure or when he's got open ice. You kind of watch him play, he's a contributor."

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after practicec

Girard can play two more games before a decision has to be made whether to send him back to his junior club in Quebec or burn a year of his entry-level contract. Once he plays his 10th contest--which would be on Sunday in Detroit--this season would count as one of his three years on his deal. He could return to junior after his 10th game, but the year would already be used on the contract.

Bednar doesn't view that happening, though the decision is ultimately up to general manager Joe Sakic.

"I think he'll be a member of our team based on what we're seeing," Bednar said of the possibility of sending Girard back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. "I think he was impressive in a lot of ways. He brings us something that we need and another guy to help drive us offensively and move the puck in and out of our zone. I can't imagine he's going anywhere, to be honest with you."

Bednar plans to play Girard with veteran blueliner Erik Johnson for Thursday's matchup at home against the Washington Capitals, and Johnson is one of the players that has liked what he's seen from the 19-year-old.

"He looks outstanding. It's really tough as a young D to come in and play as he has, and he looks great," Johnson said. "The hardest thing at this level is to be consistent, and it's been a small sample size but he looks terrific."

Girard's role with Johnson won't just be to try and match--if that's possible--his 26:38 a game, but also to help in the possible absence of Tyson Barrie, who only took part in a portion of the team session while wearing a red, non-contact jersey. His status for Thursday is unknown.

Another D-man who wore red on Wednesday was Anton Lindholm, who missed the past three games after breaking his jaw on Nov. 4 at the Philadelphia Flyers. He skated on his own prior the team session before returning to the locker room. Fellow Swedish rear guard Patrik Nemeth also didn't practice because of a lower-body injury.

Wednesday marked the first practice for Kamenev, who centered a line with Sven Andrighetto and Nail Yakupov during practice. The trio is expected to play together against the Capitals, which will mark Kamenev's third career NHL contest and first with Colorado.

"I know that he's a trusted defensive player, but he has a great skillset," Bednar said of Kamenev. "He has good hands, good feet, smart player, committed on the defensive side of the puck. In the American League, he's put up pretty good numbers."

Kamenev is from Orsk, Russia, and doesn't speak much English, but as the fifth Russian player on the club's roster, he'll have plenty of help in his transition to a new team.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog said the team will do their part to help him adjust.

"I don't know him too well as a player or a person, but we'll welcome him with open arms," Landeskog said. "I know our group will bring him in in the nicest way possible, and I think he'll be a good addition for us."

The Avs made a few other changes to their lines, which included playing rookie centers J.T. Compher and Alexander Kerfoot with veteran Colin Wilson. Also, Carl Soderberg returned to his normal spot on a group with wingers Blake Comeau and Matt Nieto. Soderberg missed both games in Sweden awaiting the birth of the family's new child.

Rookie Tyson Jost was one of the extra forwards with Gabriel Bourque during practice and continues to get readjusted to the team's game after missing four weeks with a lower-body injury. A timetable for his return hasn't been set by Bednar.

"Jost is getting close. For me, the lack of practice time is what has been hurting him. That was only his second full-contact practice today," Bednar said. "He is basically ready to go, we just have to find a way to get him up to game speed."

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov is expected to start Thursday's game versus Washington, his former team. It will mark Varlamov's 300th contest with Colorado since he was acquired in a trade on July 1, 2011.

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